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https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-96
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
14 Nov 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
Spatial-temporal changes in river runoff and terrestrial ecosystem water retention under 1.5 °C and 2 °C warming scenarios across China
Ran Zhai1,2, Fulu Tao1,2,3, and Zhihui Xu4 1Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), 00790 Helsinki, Finland
4Information Center of Yellow River Conservancy Commission, Zhengzhou 450004, China
Abstract. The Paris Agreement set a long-term temperature goal of holding the global average temperature increase to below 2.0 ℃ above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit this to 1.5 ℃, it is therefore important to understand the impacts of climate change under 1.5 ℃ and 2.0 ℃ warming scenarios for climate adaptation and mitigation. Here, climate scenarios by four Global Circulation Models (GCMs) for the baseline (2006–2015), 1.5 ℃ and 2.0 ℃ warming scenarios (2106–2115) were used to drive the validated Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) hydrological model to investigate the impacts of global warming on river runoff and Terrestrial Ecosystem Water Retention (TEWR) in China. The trends in annual mean temperature, precipitation, river runoff and TEWR were analysed at the grid and basin scale. Results showed that there were large uncertainties in climate scenarios from the different GCMs, which led to large uncertainties in the impact assessment. The differences among the four GCMs were larger than differences between the two warming scenarios. The interannual variability of river runoff increased notably in areas where it was projected to increase, and the interannual variability increased notably from 1.5 ℃ warming scenario to 2.0 ℃ warming scenario. By contrast, TEWR would remain relatively stable. Both extreme low and high river runoff would increase under the two warming scenarios in most areas in China, with high river runoff increasing more. And the risk of extreme river runoff events would be higher under 2.0 ℃ warming scenario than under 1.5 ℃ warming scenario in term of both extent and intensity. River runoff was significantly positively correlated to precipitation, while increase in maximum temperature would generally cause river runoff to decrease through increasing evapotranspiration. Likewise, precipitation also played a dominant role in affecting TEWR. Our findings highlight climate change mitigation and adaptation should be taken to reduce the risks of hydrological extreme events.

Citation: Zhai, R., Tao, F., and Xu, Z.: Spatial-temporal changes in river runoff and terrestrial ecosystem water retention under 1.5 °C and 2 °C warming scenarios across China, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2017-96, in review, 2017.
Ran Zhai et al.
Ran Zhai et al.
Ran Zhai et al.

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Short summary
This study investigated the changes in river runoff and terrestrial ecosystem water retention (TEWR) across China under 1.5 ℃ and 2.0 ℃ warming scenarios by four GCMs using the VIC hydrological model. Results showed that TEWR remain relatively stable than river runoff under warming scenarios and there were more water-related risks under 2.0 ℃ than 1.5 ℃ warming scenario. Climate change mitigation and adaptation should be taken to reduce the risks of hydrological extreme events.
This study investigated the changes in river runoff and terrestrial ecosystem water retention...
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